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Update by Darren Monahan, dinosaur fan
 

pe-screenshot.jpg
Yep, you've seen this before - but not animating!

 
In this week’s update, we’re back with me for one more! We’ll cover what the team’s up to currently.
 
To start, every one of Obsidian’s games goes through a series of phases. Those phases, chronologically, are: Prototype, Vertical Slice, Production, and Finalization. At the end of each phase, the team and owners do an analysis of the progress; we verify that we’ve hit key goals, and (hopefully) officially move the project into the next phase.

Prototype!
So where are we at on Project Eternity?

We’re coming to the end of the Prototype phase. While you might think of a prototype as something you would consider before making a game, in our case, we use the term to mean a demonstration of the game that, when successful, demonstrates the game’s vision (AKA “pillars”) and concept. For Eternity, one of our biggest pillars is to recreate the Infinity Engine experience. To that end, we need to have a number of key things in place to make sure our prototype is a success. Things like:

  • Character movement and combat. We want to make sure we have a party of up to six characters, each of whom can be moved independently and/or as a group, which does then imply rudimentary support for formations as well as NPC and basic creature AI. Basic AI meaning to ‘see’ the characters, face them, and then move to them and start attacking. This also means we need character models that have enough animations to demonstrate this convincingly, as well as at least one monster. For our prototype demo, we have one known only as “Chompy” for now. More on him (or her?!) in future updates!
  • Basic RPG mechanics. We need to prove that we’re making an RPG here obviously! We need basics like loot management; for instance, inventory and opening containers like chests. We need basic conversations and quest giving, including receiving a quest, tracking its progress, and then providing a reward for it being completed.
  • Environments. We want to have a working outdoor area as well as a tileset-based interior that the player can move between and throughout. This makes us prove out area transitions too (I can hear it now, “YOU MUST GATHER YOUR PARTY BEFORE VENTURING FORTH...”)

For our outdoor area (see screenshot above), we’re bringing life to it by not only building out the rest of the level, but getting our technological solutions in place. We have a working waterfall now, with moving water, replete with foam around the rocks(!) and more.

Eeeert (sound of a record scratching…)! Wait, tilesets, Darren? What?
Believe it or not, a lot of the areas in IE games were actually assembled through tile pieces (granted, outside the game in 3D art packages), and then were beautified by hand to give them a more organic look and feel. This tradition carries on with Eternity.

pe-interior-concept-wip.jpg
Work in Progress Concept of an Interior

 
Our next phase of the project is called the Vertical Slice. At Obsidian, this is the phase right before Production. In Vertical Slice, we try to do two things:

  • Get Ready for Production. During Vertical Slice and definitely up into Production is when the team size grows. Early on, we’re getting all of our tools and processes designed, programmed, and with luck, polished up for our designers and artists to hit the ground running. Unity has been a dream for our developers so far, and it’s been easy for us to bring over our latest tools from other games for things like text and conversation management.
  • Produce a Final “Slice” of Gameplay. We also try to develop a ‘final slice’ of gameplay. It’s generally a short, maybe 5-15 minute demo that demonstrates all of the core pillars of the game, as well as taken to what we’re aiming for at a final quality level in terms of visuals, audio, and presentation. During our Prototype we try to make stuff look great, but it’s secondary to form and feel.

So, how are we doing?
Well, we are absolutely trucking along. We’ve recently added several new concept artists to the team, two longtime Obsidian designers have also come on board (more on them later!), and we are hiring for other positions too. The team all has their heads down pushing forward for our prototype review.

Fear... of the Dark
Periodically throughout the rest of the project, we’ll have a number of weeks where we’ll ‘be dark’ (or rather more succinctly, "won't have an update" :)) due to a variety of reasons, and next week is one of those instances. Don’t worry though, we will most certainly be working on the game, but we want to always make sure we’ve got cool stuff lined up for you, and our Prototype final is something we all want to keep focused on.

When we’re back the following week (3/26), we’ll start a series of fresh new updates from Josh, Rob and the Art team, Adam, me, and more Let’s Play Arcanum with Chris Avellone. You might meet a few new team members, and maybe even hear from George again soon too.
 
 
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

-Darren and the PE Team


In case you're not sure who those folks are above:

- Josh Sawyer: Project director and lead designer
- Rob Nesler: Art director
- Adam Brennecke: Exec producer and lead programmer
- Me (Darren Monahan): Operations dude and co-founder
- Chris Avellone: Obsidian's creative director
- George Zeits: Narrative writer/designer

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Sooo... When are we gonna see that waterfall animating? Got my hopes up there, Darren. The dungeon concept art is really nice, though.

 

If you're finishing prototype now, any clue on how long till you have gameplay footage you want to show?

 

Thanks for the update, I'll start waiting for next Tuesday now.

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All of the water in the scene is already animating, the waterfall included. :)

 

We're still working on some of the alpha/thickness issues with grass in the scene as well as additional moving elements like trees.

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Cool, can't wait for the first gameplay and/or animated scenes. The artwork of the dungeon looks great! :)

 

Edit: That's great, Josh, but we want to see the animatons ourselves! ;)

Edited by LordCrash

35167v4.jpg

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I've been waiting for this waterfall for months, man. I can't take this teasing.

 

But, uh, the trees are also animating? :w00t:

 

Also, that's actually pretty awesome news that you're using that same "screenshot". To be honest, I didn't expect that to be in the final game at all. Thought it was just a pretty concept for the Kickstarter.

Edited by SunBroSolaire

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Dinosaurs make everything officially 93.4% better. There you have it. Go forth and make dinosaurs!

 

Thank you. My pleasure. I charge by the half-hour.

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It good to hear that progress has been good, bit sad about dark times, but undestanding. Eager to see scene animated, but prepared to wait until it's fully animated and will blow my mind away. Wondering will we see final slice of gameplay or is it purelly in house thing? Because it sound  like cool demo to see.

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Please give us more updates from Tim. This guy is just so relaxed, it's a pleasure to listen to his explanations. :)

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I think there's supposed to be another picture there? Like, above "In case you're not sure who those folks are above:".

 

and the one with the animated waterfall, but I'll let that drop now.

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I'm a bit curious about how some of the developer roles actually play out in terms of typical daily involvement and interaction with one another. (I guess I mean the ones that aren't self-explanatory from job title, like maybe animator.)

 

And where is Tim Cain in all of this? I read something about him recently and I had no idea (or had forgotten) he was working on this.

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I'm a bit curious about how some of the developer roles actually play out in terms of typical daily involvement and interaction with one another. (I guess I mean the ones that aren't self-explanatory from job title, like maybe animator.)

 

And where is Tim Cain in all of this? I read something about him recently and I had no idea (or had forgotten) he was working on this.

 

Tim is gameplay designer, like Josh. :)


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Sounds good and glad to hear you are growing bigger.  I would like to request that you dress up or do some sort of rabbit face paint for easter.  My favorite update was your halloween skeleton face update so I think a rabbit would be a hit too ;)  Although the hunting bird of prey screech was pretty good too...

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Feel bit sad about the news that update will get less frequent but, hopefully, most of the backers can behave better than some publishers and do away with "the dog and pony show" (cf. An interview to Adam Brennecke).
 

I'm a bit curious about how some of the developer roles actually play out in terms of typical daily involvement and interaction with one another. (I guess I mean the ones that aren't self-explanatory from job title, like maybe animator.)

 

And where is Tim Cain in all of this? I read something about him recently and I had no idea (or had forgotten) he was working on this.


I think the official wiki is a good starting place to check out things if you haven't followed the news for a while.  In this case, follow the links at developers section.  They are just basic, though.

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Thanks for another glimpse into the overall production process. Its very interesting to read about. Looking forward to more!

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While the Concept art of the underground area isn't my favourite art style - a bit colorful and cartoonish looking ... the layout and design is VERY reminiscent of Dragon's Eye cave from IWD1, which is very pleasing :)

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  • Produce a Final “Slice” of Gameplay. We also try to develop a ‘final slice’ of gameplay. It’s generally a short, maybe 5-15 minute demo that demonstrates all of the core pillars of the game, as well as taken to what we’re aiming for at a final quality level in terms of visuals, audio, and presentation. During our Prototype we try to make stuff look great, but it’s secondary to form and feel.

     

 

So what are the chances of getting to play that or at least see a video (like the Wasteland 2 guys did)?

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Hrrm :\ It sounded like you guys were saying this update was going to show us the animated waterfall scene. Can we at least get a hi-res version of the concept interior?

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Please give us more updates from Tim. This guy is just so relaxed, it's a pleasure to listen to his explanations. :)

I second this, would love to hear from Tim Cain again. 

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You said "and we are hiring for other positions too"  
Where we can check this out? 
Wahat sort of tallents you searshing for? 
"Project Eternety" and "Torment Tides of Numenera" ( inXile soft.) for me are the RPG projects of the decade! You forging history... :)
Keep it doing the best way you can dudes!  :thumbsup:


www.mazhlekov.com

www.portals.mazhlekov.com

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Great update, good luck with finishing off that Prototyposaurus and then begin to chop it up in nice slices!

And I second that a Tim Cain appearance soonish would be fantastic.  :)

 

 

While the Concept art of the underground area isn't my favourite art style - a bit colorful and cartoonish looking ... the layout and design is VERY reminiscent of Dragon's Eye cave from IWD1, which is very pleasing :)

However, I agree with Sensuki here, it was almost Torchlight-D3-looking, not really what I had expected, but its probably just a prototype. In some ways, it also reminds me of witch cave early on in Dungeon Siege 3, which may or may not be a good thing.


*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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That's weird, I've heard a few developers rail against the vertical slice, most notably Ron Gilbert on his Grumpy Gamer blog. It certainly resonated with me as being a clumsy and inefficient concept when applied to a game. I'm curious to hear the counterargument, I suppose it can get everyone on the same page while exposing issues early on but it still strikes me as a weird idea.

 

 http://grumpygamer.com/6843121

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